The Chicago Blackhawks started off the post-All-Star Break on the right foot with a win over the Edmonton Oilers. Then they promptly followed it with a rough loss against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, with Dylan Strome scoring the lone tally.
The good news for the Blackhawks is that Monday’s opponent, the Winnipeg Jets, are also having an up-and-down season.
Long-time head coach Paul Maurice resigned in December.
Speaking of coaches leaving, the last opponent of the Jeremy Colliton era was the Jets: a 5-1 Blackhawks loss on Nov. 5 that ultimately cost Colliton his job.
Winnipeg is just one spot ahead of the Blackhawks in the Central Division standings, going 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. They have 48 points in 45 games and are four points behind the Dallas Stars for fifth in the Central.
What success Winnipeg has had is largely due to the otherwise-unworldly goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, a potential Vezina favorite the last few years who won that trophy in the 2019-20 season. But Hellebuyck has come back to earth a bit this season with a .913 save percentage — still good, just not as good.
Winnipeg is getting scoring from Kyle Connor, Peirre-Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele and ... that’s about it. Connor has 50 points in 45 games — the only Jet north of a point-per-game pace — and Dubois and Scheifele are both at 35 points on the season.
Blake Wheeler, one of the team’s best scorers in previous seasons, has just four goals this season. Nikolaj Ehlers is another one of the team’s offensive threats and has 25 points in 34 games but he’s been on injured reserve since Jan. 18.
The Jets largely rebuilt their defense over the last two years with the additions of Dylan DeMelo at last year’s deadline and Nate Schmidt and Brenden Dillon this offseason, but they still haven’t seen results from that rebuilt unit, as the Jets have allowed the sixth-most expected goals per 60 at 5-on-5 (2.64) this season.
The Jets’ offense has been better, with 2.59 expected goals per 60 at 5-on-5 — the No. 8 mark in the NHL — but Winnipeg has the 25th best shooting percentage this season (8.56). That bad shooting luck hasn’t loomed over the power play, however, as the Jets are 11th with a 21.5 percent conversion rate.
Winnipeg is looking to build on their most recent success, a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators, ahead of a mid-week back-to-back set on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Blackhawks will be looking for a bounce-back effort from a dismal 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night and will be facing Winnipeg for the first time in the Derek King era. A few lineup changes emerged from the morning skate:
Marc-Andre Fleury starts for Blackhawks, again, tonight vs. Jets.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) February 14, 2022
Connolly in for Kurashev and Gustafsson in for Galvas.
Blackhawks — Statistic — Jets
46.45% (30th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 51.1% (13th)
45.98% (27th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 49.54% (17th)
2.38 (30th) — Goals per game — 2.87 (20th)
3.35 (24th) — Goals against per game — 2.89 (17th)
49.1% (18th) — Faceoffs — 50.1% (15th)
20.1% (15th) — Power play — 21.5% (11th)
74.5% (28th) — Penalty kill — 74.8% (27th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
Kubalik — Strome — Kane
DeBrincat — Dach — Hagel
Borgstrom — Slavin — Lafferty
Connolly — Carpenter — Entwistle
de Haan — S. Jones
C. Jones — Murphy
McCabe — Gustafsson
Stastny — Scheifele — Wheeler
Connor — DuBois — Perfetti
Copp — Lowry — Reichel
Harkins — Toninato — Svechnikov
Morrissey — DeMelo
Dillon — Schmidt
Heinola — Stanley
How to watch
When: 8 p.m. CT
Where: Canada Life Centre, Winnipeg
TV: NBC Sports Chicago